The Use of 'Shame' with Sexual Offenders

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Anne-Marie McAlinden

Anne-Marie McAlinden

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law

Date Written: May 2005


This article explores the use of shaming mechanisms with sexual offenders, particularly those who offend against children. Shaming-a central concept in the broader theory of restorative justice-may be of two varieties. The first-'disintegrative shaming'-characterizes the traditional retributive framework of justice and is evident in recent state-led and popular responses to the risk posed by released sexual offenders. Far from ensuring offender integration, the net result is often labelling, stigmatization, ostracism and a return to offending behaviour. The second-'reintegrative shaming'-affirms the offender's membership within law-abiding society. This has been used in several jurisdictions as the basis of restorative support and treatment networks for sexual offenders where the community works in partnership with state and voluntary agencies. Contrary to arguments put forward by critics of restorative justice, this article argues that such cases may be particularly suitable for a restorative approach.

Suggested Citation

McAlinden, Anne-Marie, The Use of 'Shame' with Sexual Offenders (May 2005). The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 45, Issue 3, pp. 373-394, 2005, Available at SSRN: or

Anne-Marie McAlinden (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN

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